Sölden 2023 Men‘s Alpine Ski Giant Slalom Preview
Updated: Oct 29
Last season 70 skiers from all over the world were in Sölden for one of the sport’s most exciting events for ski fans.
The favorites to win the 2023 Giant Slalom on the Rettenbach glacier will be Henrik Kristoffersen, Marco Schwarz, Žan Kranjec, Loic Meillard, Alexis Pinturault, Lucas Braathen, and defending champion Marco Odermatt.
In 2022, after the cancellation of the Women's race on Saturday due to bad weather, the Men's race took place under blue skies in front of a fervent crowd of 14,500 ski fans. And Marco Odermatt started the Giant Slalom World Cup season in Sölden the same way he finished it in Courchevel, winning. After setting the best time in the first run, he laid down a risky second run to claim victory with a combined time of 2:04.72, finishing 0.76 seconds ahead of Zan Kranjec. Henrik Kristoffersen rounded out the contested podium third position, 0.97 seconds behind Odermatt.
Odermatt also won the 2021 season opener in Sölden after he had finished runner-up in the same event in 2020. The last man to win the opening Giant Slalom event in successive World Cup seasons was Ted Ligety, who achieved this in four consecutive seasons from 2010-2011 to 2013-2014 (1 in Beaver Creek, 3 in Sölden).
In the last two seasons, Marco Odermatt was the absolute dominator of the discipline. He is the reigning Olympic Champion, World Champion, and Crystal Globe winner in the Men's Giant Slalom.
The 26-year-old Swiss has competed in nine Men's Giant Slalom World Cup events last season and won seven of these (Sölden, Val d'Isère, Alta Badia, Adelboden, Kranjska Gora I and II, and Soldeu). He finished third in Alta Badia (18 December) and second in Palisade Tahoe (26 February). Only Ingmar Stenmark (10 in 1978-1979) has won more Giant Slalom races in a single season.
Since December 7, 2020, in Santa Caterina Odermatt has won 14 Giant Slalom events in the World Cup. Among Swiss men, only von Michael von Grünigen (23) won more men's Giant Slalom World Cup events than Odermatt (14).
The Swiss Ace can become the first man to win four successive World Cup Giant Slalom races since Marcel Hirscher in 2017-2018.
Marco Odermatt secured the Giant Slalom Crystal Globe in Kranjska Gora. Odermatt also picked up the Giant Slalom Crystal Globe in the 2021-2022 season becoming the first Swiss man to do so since Didier Cuche in 2008-2009. The last Swiss man to claim the Giant Slalom globe in successive seasons was Michael von Grünigen in 1995-1996, and 1996-1997.
Odermatt (14) can equal Alberto Tomba (15) in joint-sixth place in the list of most Men's Giant Slalom victories in the World Cup. Hermann Maier and Benjamin Raich claimed 14 wins as well.
Marco Odermatt's trajectory at Sölden reflects an incredible progression. In his first race in 2017, he finished in 17th position. A year later he finished in thirteenth place. In 2019 he was on the podium for the first time after finishing in second place. And finally last season Marco Odermatt won the World Cup Opening Giant Slalom in Sölden.
Giant Slalom World Cup Podiums: 26
Giant Slalom World Cup Wins: 14
Henrik Kristoffersen finished in second place in the Men's Giant Slalom World Cup standings last season. Kristoffersen finished on the podium of a Giant Slalom event seven times in the 2022-2023 season, but never on the highest step (5 second places and 2 third places).
With 7 wins Kristoffersen surpassed in 2021 Kjetil André Aamodt (6) for most World Cup Giant Slalom wins in total among Norwegian skiers.
Kristoffersen has claimed at least one World Cup win in each of the last ten seasons. He can become the second male skier to claim at least one World Cup victory in as many as 11 consecutive seasons, after Alberto Tomba (1987-1988 to 1997-1998).
The two Norwegian skiers to have won the Sölden Giant Slalom in the World Cup are Aksel Lund Svindal (2007-2008) and Lucas Braathen (2020-2021).
Kristoffersen has raced eight times in Sölden and before last season's third place his best results were a 5th place in 2020, sixth in 2015, and 8th in 2016.
Giant Slalom World Cup Podiums: 31
Giant Slalom World Cup Wins: 7
Marco Schwarz was on the podium in Giant Slalom three times during the 2022-2023 winter season, two third places in Schladming and Soldeu, and his maiden GS win in Palisades Tahoe.
Marco Schwarz, Lucas Braathen, and Loïc Meillard are the only alpine skiers apart from Odermatt to have won a Men's Giant Slalom event last World Cup season.
The three Austrian men to have won the Sölden Giant Slalom in the World Cup are Hermann Maier (1998-1999, 2000-2001, and 2005-2006), Stephan Eberharter (2002-2003) and Marcel Hirscher (2014-2015).
Schwarz can become the first Austrian man since Marcel Hirscher (2014, Sölden) to win a World Cup Giant Slalom event on Austrian snow.
Schwarz has raced four times in Sölden, DNQ (2016), DNQ (2020), 13 (2021), and 13 (2022).
Giant Slalom World Cup Podiums: 3
Giant Slalom World Cup Wins: 1
Žan Kranjec finished on the podium in the Giant Slalom Opener in Sölden. He finished in second place at the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. Kranjec became the second man representing Slovenia to win an Olympic medal in alpine skiing, after Jure Kosir (bronze in the slalom in 1994). Kranjec recorded two World Cup victories, in the Giant Slalom in Saalbach Hinterglemm (2018) and in Adelboden (2020).
Kranjec (2) hopes to equal Jure Kosir (3) on most World Cup victories among men representing Slovenia.
Kranjec was three times on the podium in Sölden, third in 2019, 2021, and second in 2022. In 2016 he finished in 4th position, and was 7th in 2020.
Giant Slalom World Cup Podiums: 11
Giant Slalom World Cup Wins: 2
Alexis Pinturault has won 18 World Cup Giant Slalom events, ranking him fifth all-time among men. His most recent victory in this event was in Lenzerheide on 20 March 2021. Since then, Pinturault has recorded seven podium finishes in the World Cup (3 second places, 4 third places).
In the last two seasons, Pinturault failed to win a single World Cup event for the first time since 2010-2011. The French skier had claimed at least one World Cup win in 10 successive seasons from 2011-2012 to 2020-2021.
Like Odermatt Pinturault won the season opener in Sölden on two previous occasions, in 2016-2017 and 2019-2020. Only Ted Ligety (4) and Hermann Maier (3) won the Sölden Giant Slalom more often in the Men's World Cup.
Giant Slalom World Cup Podiums: 41
Giant Slalom World Cup Wins: 18
Lucas Braathen will be the one missing from this edition after announcing last Friday that he will stop ski racing at the age of 23.
In 2020, 22-year-old Norwegian sensation Lucas Braathen stole the show in the opening race of the 2020-2021 Audi FIS World Cup in Sölden when he edged out Swiss Marco Odermatt (SUI) by 0.06 seconds to claim his first victory and podium at the World Cup. At just 20 years old, he was also the youngest-ever winner at Sölden.
In his first race in Sölden back in 2019 he finished sixth, in 2021 he was 7th. Lucas Braathen was the second Norwegian skier to have won the Sölden Giant Slalom after Aksel Lund Svindal won in the 2007-2008 season.
Giant Slalom World Cup Podiums: 4
Giant Slalom World Cup Wins: 2